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Date With Your Family, A (outtakes)


Published 1950


Outtakes from the well-known "mental hygiene" film, offering today's viewers a window on how these oft-mythologized films were actually produced and performed. Director: Edward C. Simmel. Cinematography: Harry F. Burrell. Script: Arthur V. Jones. Editor: Miriam Bucher. With Ralph Hodges ("Son"). Filmed in Kodachrome. The complete film is also on this site.


Run time 10:00
Producer Simmel-Meservey
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Shotlist

A Date With Your Family, a true suburban horror story, outdoes all other social guidance films by advising kids to do whatever is necessary Ñ even lie Ñ to achieve harmonious family relations. The odd title reveals its odd thesis: that teenagers should treat a family dinner as if it was a date, a date with someone who they really wanted to be with. As the voice of authority tells us, ÒThese boys greet their Dad as though they were genuinely glad to see him, as though they really missed being away from him.Ó And in a world where "the women of the family feel they owe it to the men of the family to look relaxed,Ó there seems to be little reason for ÒDaughterÓ to study as hard as ÒSonÓ before dinner. ÒPleasant, unemotional conversation helps the digestion.Ó Words to live by.
Simmel-Meservey produced a number of films on courtesy, etiquette and behavior (Let's Give a Tea, Junior Prom, Dinner Party; Obligations, Introductions and others). All employ an authoritative-sounding narrator (who is not above trying to crack a wry joke at times) but none let the actors speak directly; the voice of authority is never challenged. More than other company's films, they play on fear and guilt. A Date With Your Family was one of their most successful releases, picked up for distribution by industry giant Encyclopaedia Britannica Films.
A contemporary review authored by classroom teachers criticized this film, which appears to have been shot in affluent West Los Angeles, for showing an upper-class family to which many students might not be able to relate. What do you think?

EMPHASIZES THE NEED FOR GREATER AWARENESS IN THE HOME OF RESPECT THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY SHOULD HAVE FOR THE OTHERS. SHOWS HOW FAMILY TIES ARE STRENGTHENED BY PRACTICE OF SIMPLE COURTESIES.


Ken Smith sez: This brain-deadening film seems to go on forever, but it's well worth repeated viewing. It's probably one of the last to reflect pre-war social behavior; the great classless society of the fifties was just emerging and "formality" had not yet become a dirty word (see DINNER PARTY, HOW DO YOU DO and JUNIOR PROM as other examples).
A narrator explains that teenaged "Daughter" and "Brother" treat every meal with their family as if it were "a truly special occasion." We follow the progress of a typical meal while the narrator offers a continuous stream of advice, such as; "pleasant, unemotional conversation helps digestion," and "the dinner table is no place for discontent." Of course, Mother and Daughter do all the cooking, while Father and Brother show deference and appreciation. "This will make them want to continue pleasing you," the narrator adds. "Help cut your meat, Junior?"

FAMILY LIFE CHILDREN PARENTS FOOD
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Reviews

Reviewer: markuskobi - - May 18, 2013
Subject: Cast
"Daughter" looks like Kelly Ripa and "Father" looks like Victor Garber!!
Reviewer: Pleonic - - September 9, 2007
Subject: Fun To Watch
The actors certainly seem to have enjoyed themselves. Making a film on this subject wasn't stiff and robot-like, at least.

Where are these people today? The parents have passed on I'm sure, but the kids are probably still out there.
Reviewer: I_c_newhorizons - - September 10, 2006
Subject: Stepford Family
Coming from someone who was raised by a family from that generation. I must admit I was under the impression that parts of my family did live this way and the choices I was making as an adolescent in the 80's were completely irresponsible!! This type of influence created a generation of stiff, emotionally unresponsive individuals that have only managed to confuse and alienate the children they raised! Thankfully, this movement did not take affect and we live in a society where you can ask Dad for a raise in your allowance without the concern of added stress because he's had a busy day.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - April 14, 2003
Subject: Wow!
A total find, these outtakes from the classic social guidance film, "Date With Your Family" show some bloopers, flub ups, and one particulariy interesting deleted scene of "daughter" washing dishes, getting tired and wiping the sweat off of her brow. One wonders what kind of narration would have went with this scene "Daughter takes care of the dishes, father demands her to do it, and you can tell it takes a toll on her, still, to keep her father happy, she continues on, like a robot..'
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - - October 5, 2002
Subject: A Date with Your Family Outtakes
Silent outtakes from that classic of suburban horror, A Date with Your Family. Watch how hard those actors had to practice in order to follow the "few simple rules" of harmonious family dining. Watch how hard it was for the actress who played "sister" to keep from cracking up.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***. Also available on Our Secret Century, Vol. 3: The Behavior Offensive.
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